"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Monday, February 7, 2011

FAMILY: Laria, scary smart (1 of 2)

Ted, Sing-yi, Laria (about 3-1/2)
and baby brother Vyron.
     My brother Tim calls our niece Laria's intellectual prowess "spooky." I call her "scary smart." I don't mean that in a derogatory way, Laria. I have profound respect for your mind.
     Laria is my brother Ted's daughter, now 12. Ted is the brother who taught himself to read--upside down--when he was two. His wife Sing-yi (Shing-ee) is no intellectual slouch, either.
     Ted started e-mailing me Laria's comments when she was at the age most kids are starting to form a word or two, maybe "Mama" or "blanky."
     Here's what he wrote on 9-14-2000: "The other day she came running to me, bright eyes, big smile, her two thumbs and index fingers touching to make something like a diamondish circle.
     "'Colosseum!'" Laria was then two years old (29 months).
     Even "circle" or "triangle" would have been precocious. But Colosseum!

     Ted, in same e-mail: "I was thinking of fixing one of her broken toys. She brought her Play-Doh over and told me to use it to stick the pieces together. I said Play-Doh wouldn't work. She replied 'Because their molecules will break easily.'"

     See the thing is, it isn't just that Laria picked up words early and amassed a phenomenal vocabulary. At two, she was grasping concepts of things like time and space, cause and effect, real and imagined--
     --in two languages! Her mother speaks to her in Chinese. Ted wrote me (1-31-01), "Her English is about as far along as her Chinese was a year ago." (i.e., at 1 year, nine months!) "She doesn't use 'I' in either language, but she does use 'Laria' for herself in English. In Chinese she calls herself  'you.' I find this weird but Sing-yi isn't troubled by it."

     Same letter: "(Laria) counts up to forty in Chinese, to twenty in English, adds any number up to a sum of ten, and writes "HAPPY". . . backwards. Is this normal for 32 months?"
     It was obviously normal for her. There is no sense comparing our own children and feeling jealous or inferior. Laria is to other children intellectually as a budding Olympic champion is to them physically. She's in her own category.

     On 2-4-02 (3 years, 10 months) Ted wrote, "Two days ago Laria was running wildly through the house for quite a while. "I want to fly," she gasped. "How fast does a plane run before it flies?" Then she vanished to her art table for a long time. When she came back, she resumed running. She had taped dozens of feathers to every part of her clothes. Around and around she sped. Poor kid. She deserved to fly."

Effect of the rotation of the earth on progression of time.
     One day her mother was describing to Laria what bellows were, and what they did. Laria wanted to see some bellows. Sing-yi explained she didn't know where they could see some, even in an antique store, because they hadn't been used in so many years. Laria said quite matter-of-factly, "We should turn the earth the other way."
     "Huh?" (I'm not sure what "Huh" is in Chinese but that's what Ted wrote.)
     "We should make the earth turn the other direction until it's back to the bellows time and get some bellows. And then we should lock it, so it won't change again. And we should lock it in the daytime, so we won't have to ever sleep."
     Some of us adults never reach the point of being able to grasp and play with concepts like that.

Today I am thankful for imagination.


  1. You figured out how to do more pics? How did you do it?

  2. I thought this might be confusing. . . No, this is one of several posts with pictures already in them which I had composed and saved before the ultimatum. One series which is partially complete is about Cherokee. Still trying to figure out how to upload more pix (without paying for space and signing nervous-making "agreements"). Ah, the bliss of entitlement--until it stops!

  3. My other brother Tim wrote me, "Ted learned to read upside down because his mother would read to him facing him with the book in her lap. I, on the other hand, didn't speak till I was four or even five maybe. My first word was Doggy."

    I wrote back, "That's right. Your first word was doggy, your second was kitty and you got so confused at the zoo you started calling everything diggy. You didn't talk again until you were three but then it all came together in a single day. When Dad went to work that morning you weren't talking at all. But you started pointing to things and giving them their correct names and Mum would say, 'Yes, lamp! Yes, table!' and by the time Dad came home you were speaking in sentences!"